Basic needs satisfaction and subjective poverty: Evidence
from rural Guatemala
Jorge Guardiola and Teresa García-Muñoz
University of Granada
Draft presented to the 2008 International Conference of Well Being, Casino, Italy.
Literature about subjective well being has been recently raised in economic science and
has been most recently applied in developing economies. Following this line, this paper
deals with the perceived basic needs fulfilment in a rural area in Guatemala. First, we
discuss about the relationship between this concept and subjective well being. By
reviewing particular aspects of the literature, we find that the concepts of capabilities,
subjective well being and perceived basic needs are empirically related, but not related
to income based approaches. Ordinal regression indicate that some characteristics not
often found in standard databases (like certain livelihoods), are related to perceived
basic needs fulfilment. We compare income poverty with basic needs poverty, finding
that both measures do not match perfectly. From this evidence, we conclude that in
order to better understand the influences of happiness in developing economies, it is
necessary to first take into consideration the endemic factors of the region were the
studied people dwell.
Keywords: Subjective well being, basic needs, poverty, agriculture.
JEL Codes: I31, I32, O13, O18.
The study of subjective well being of individuals is very new in economics, although
the issue has been studied in psychology for years. 1 Some studies of subjective well
being from an economic perspective include, for example, Clark and Oswald (1994), Di
Tella et al. (2001), Easterlin (1974), Easterlin (2001) Oswald (1997) and Van Praag et.
al (2003). A general survey on happiness research can be found in Kahneman et. al
(1999), Frey and Stutzer (2002a) and Veenhoven (1993) and for a review of the
important issues to integrate happiness to economics...